Ethan Suplee: The TV Squad Interview
AJ: How does it feel to be part of NBC's golden child?
ETHAN: I don't know. I don't know what any of that means. I hope that people like us next year like they liked us last year. I don't want to be part of the Golden Child. I want to be on a show that's as good as the one we're doing and that we get to make for many years. All that stuff about saving the network only hurts our show. Where do you go from there? You know what I mean. Now they can only say that we didn't save the network. That stuff is all scary. I don't need to be on the number one show. Number 25 is fine.
AJ: I was a little worried for you guys when they moved it to Thursdays.
ETHAN: When they moved us they were putting us on against CSI, which was absolutely the number one show. That's terrifying because, here's our little comedy and comedies don't seem to garner as many viewers as the big hour-long dramas do. You have to have comedies. You can't just be innundated with death and...
ETHAN: ...guts, and how the bullet entered and cracked the ribcage and bounced off here and tore through the trachea. That's great and interesting but we need to laugh a little bit too. We still are doing pretty good up against that show that's a Behemoth.
AJ: Are you getting recognized as Randy Hickey?
ETHAN: Not too much. I wear glasses because I can't see. And I wear a hat. I still think I'm recognized for Boy Meets World (Frankie Stechino, 1996-1998) more than anything else that I've done.
AJ: How is playing Randy different from playing Frankie on Boy Meets World?
ETHAN: Frankie was a misunderstood bully who turned to bullying out of shyness or getting picked on or whatever it was. Randy is just a sweet, innocent guy who looks up to his brother. He will pretty much go in the direction that his brother is going in. If Earl threw his list away, Randy would be right behind him going back to the life of petty criminality. The difference in playing them is Randy is a lot more fun. I've lived a lot in the last 12 years or however long its been since Boy Meets World. I have a lot more to draw upon in playing Randy than I did playing Frankie. Although, I did have a lot of fun playing that role.
AJ: When I was doing research for this interview, I realized I had seen you in a ton of stuff. You look different. You've lost some weight. How long have you been working on that?
ETHAN: I really started trying to get my act together in August of 2002. So, three and a half years? I have kids and I want to have a long life and there are certain things that are conducive to that and certain things that aren't. I've opted for the road of happiness and long life.
AJ: After Boy Meets World, you did a ton of movies. Were you looking to get back into television when Earl came up?
ETHAN: Yes. I had a stack of television scripts and my wife was pregnant. I was saying, 'I can't keep going out of town'. I think, that year, during the pregnancy I was in Montreal for a while and the year before that I was in New Zealand and the year before that I was in Romania. And Canada. It was like there's got to be some way to stay working and stay productive in Los Angeles. TV is that kind of thing for an actor. Unless you get stuck in one of these shows where you have to go to Vancouver. All the shows I was really looking at were hour-long dramas. There weren't a lot of comedies. The comedies I was reading were just awful. And then there was My Name is Earl, which read--not like a drama, but it wasn't this weird formula of lines that didn't mean anything just to set up a stupid joke. There's just a weird formula to a lot of television and Earl didn't feel like that at all but it was hysterically funny. I was so lucky that they wanted me to do it.
AJ: Your page in Wikipedia says Greg Garcia brought you in for an audition when he heard something about you in the director's commentary of Without a Paddle. Is that even remotely true?
ETHAN: Yeah, that's entirely true. It was this argument that I had with the director of the movie. It's interesting that he'd want to hire me because of an argument I'd had with the director. [Read about it here (Thanks, Michael!)]
So, I go in and I meet with him (Greg Garcia) and I'm just sitting there going, "Man you wrote a great script, I can't believe it. While reading it, I was laughing out loud hysterically." I had known Jason (Lee) for a long time and I knew he was doing it but I didn't want to do that weird thing of calling him because I didn't honestly want to come off presumptuous to Greg and Marc (Buckland), the producers. Like, "Hey I'm buddies with this guy, give me the job." Plus, you never want to feel like that. Hopefully you'll be doing a show for a long time and you don't want to feel like, "God I only have this job because of my friend." So, I didn't call Jason before I met with them. But then I wound up liking them a lot. And, you know, we just met. I didn't read for them or anything, I just sat down and talked to them and told them what I thought of the script and how it was fresh and exciting. As I was walking off the lot, I called Jason and said, "Man, I just met with Greg and Marc" and he was like, "Who?" I said, "The guys doing My Name is Earl". And he was like, "Oh, yeah." And then he went, "Oh my God! You should play Randy!" I was like, "That's why I met them." He hung up with me to call them and they called him first to say, "We just met the guy we want to play Randy."
AJ: This show has some of the best one-liners I've heard in a long time... do you have any favorite one-liners?
ETHAN: "Who's the whore?" is classic. I think that is not necessarily a classicly-written line, but just the way Jaime delivered it was hysterical.
AJ: Which episode was that?
ETHAN: That was the pilot. Earl and Catalina walk in and she's (Jaime) ransacking his room and she goes, "Who's the Whore?" about Catalina and it's just like, "You're the whore!"
AJ: I always have to pause my TiVo so I can laugh at least once during Earl. How do you make it through a scene without just dying?
ETHAN: There are many scenes that we just don't make it through. They have to cut and paste them together because we haven't given them a solid, clean take.
AJ: Are you cracking each other up?
ETHAN: Oh, yeah. There's a lot of that. There are times when we have to send each other off the set because we're laughing too hard. The motel room set seems to be particularly plagued. We rarely make it out of a scene in that motel room. I think because, what winds up happening, is it all gets saved for a day or half a day so we wind up being on that set for six or twelve hours at a time. And you just get delirious after a while. You wind up laughing at anything. Like, they're taking light readings and somehow that becomes funny.
AJ: You guys have really good guest stars. I think the Juliette Lewis episode might be my favorite so far. The buck-toothed bounty hunter!
ETHAN: She's my sister-in-law. And, you know what happened with that was, in doing the show, she'd watch it and say it's funny. And I'd say, "Will you come and do it?" And she said, "Sure, I'd love to." And it was one of those things where, "Guys she said she'd do it! Now what are we going to do?" They write scripts so far in advance that you have all your scripts written for the next couple of months so then it became this thing of, when is she available to do it? And we locked down this one week where she was available and it was a couple months ahead of time so they had to come up with ideas for her. At one point, she was going to play our sister but, as a young girl, we drove her so crazy that our parents had to stick her in a looney bin. Greg (Garcia) wasn't into that idea so the writers were pitching ideas and pitching ideas. The one idea that was a total winner was: Juliette Lewis is a bounty hunter after Joy. He was like, "Ok that's it. Write that script. I just want to see that happen."
AJ: Who would you love to see guest star on the show?
ETHAN: I would love it if a guy like Paul Giamatti would come on the show. Or John C. Reilly would work well in our universe. Steve Buscemi would be amazing. Those are dream, wish list guest star guys.
AJ: What about Kevin Smith?
ETHAN: Oh, yeah! Kevin Smith would be great too. I think we might. It's one of those things where all these people are very busy so a guy like Kevin Smith, it would be one of those things where we'd talk to him and he'd agree to do it, I'm sure. Well, I hope. I think he'd do it.
AJ: I read that there's going to be an extra episode on the DVD.
ETHAN: Yeah, I read that too.
ETHAN: I read some things that I said about it and they're all lies.
AJ: Did you get in a little trouble?
ETHAN: I was misquoted. No. I don't know. Maybe there will be something extra on the DVD.
AJ: You've been reigned in. You can't say anything about it being about Earl turning to The Family Guy instead of Carson Daly?
ETHAN: No, I never said anything like that. [He's joking: Read about it here]
AJ: Is there going to be a blooper reel on the DVD?
ETHAN: I hope so. We've been working really hard to fuck up at least once in every take so there will be a really thick extra disc in there with lots of mess-ups. I think the bloopers are very important.
AJ: Is there anything else you want to say?
ETHAN: No, that's all. I just want to re-iterate again that I did not say anything about (laughs) any bonus episode. I don't know what could've given you that idea.
AJ: Oh, I only saw it in two different interviews.
ETHAN: Oh, shit.